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Welcome to African Archaeology!

The Journal of African Archaeology is an international peer-reviewed periodical appearing half-yearly since 2003. It publishes original papers addressing recent research and developments in African archaeology and related disciplines. The journal's main purpose is to provide scholars and students with a new pan-African forum for discussing relevant topics on the cultural dynamics of past African societies.

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Vol. 10 (1) 2012

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J. Sanmartí, N. Kallala, M.C. Belarte, J. Ramon, B. Maraoui Telmini, R. Jornet & S. Miniaoui

Filling Gaps in the Protohistory of the Eastern Maghreb: The Althiburos Archaeological Project (El Kef, Tunisia)

Journal of African Archaeology, Volume 10 (1), 2012, pages 21-44, DOI 10.3213/2191-5784-10213

Abstract
Little is known about the Eastern Maghreb in the second and first millennia BC, except for the very last centuries when classical sources provide some information about the Numidian kingdoms. The survey and excavation of Althiburos and its surroundings have provided valuable data related to the first millennium BC. Occupation of the site dates back to the ninth or tenth century cal BC and continues into Roman times. Archaeobiological data — particularly the evidence of grape, a crop that only provides a return after several years, but thereafter produces fruit for a considerable period — suggest that the population was sedentary from the beginning, and that it probably grew throughout occupation. Iron slag is also present from the eight or tenth century cal BC. The construction of a Punic-type cistern and an impressive defensive wall indicate that the site developed into a city-like settlement by the mid-first millennium BC. While relations with Carthage may have played an important role in this process, we suggest that population growth was the main cause for sedentariness and, later, for the development of cities and the Numidian states. Other important aspects of the project include the typology and dating of pottery, the discovery of small pre-Roman habitation sites, and the dating of a small dolmen and one of the funerary mounds in the city's surroundings.

Résumé
Dans le Maghreb oriental, les deux premiers millénaires correspondent à une période mal connue, mis à part informations données par les sources littéraires antiques et relatives aux royaumes numides tardifs. C'est pourquoi, les prospections et les fouilles effectuées à Althiburos constituent une source documentaire inestimable pour le premier millénaire. Les nombreuses données recueillies permettent de dater l'occupation du site des Xe–IXe siècles cal BC jusqu'à la fin de la période romaine. La construction d'une citerne de type punique et d'une imposante muraille défensive indiquerait un développement urbain dès le milieu du Ier millénaire cal BC et des scories de fer sont attestées dès les IXe–VIIIe siècles cal BC. Les données archéobiologiques — en particulier relatives à la vigne, une espèce à rendement différé — indiquent une population sédentaire dès les origines, en constante augmentation tout au long de la période d'occupation du site. Ainsi, malgré la possible implication de Carthage dans l'évolution du site et dans la formation des États numides, nous pensons que la raison principale des transformations doit être cherchée dans un processus interne de la société numide, à savoir, celui de l'accroissement démographique. D'autres aspects importants seront abordés dans cet article : la céramique (datation et typologie) et l'organisation du territoire (l'existence de petits sites d'habitation préromains, la datation d'un petit dolmen et celle d'un des tumulus funéraires aux alentours de la ville).




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